Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lebanon's military court: abolish or fix?

Lebanese parliamentarians are rolling up their sleeves concerning the country's Military Court of Cassation. The question is whether they will simply tinker with the system, make dramatic changes in the court's jurisdiction (such as forbidding it to hear cases involving civilians), or abolish it altogether. Here's an excerpt from a report in The Daily Star:
The parliamentary Justice and Administration Committee Monday began discussing a draft law relating to the Military Tribunal, including the possibility of amending some provisions with the aim of addressing flaws in the tribunal’s work. 
The committee’s meeting comes as the Military Court of Cassation is currently at the center of a heated debate, with calls by the Future Movement and its March 14 allies for the dissolution of the court altogether, or at least the reduction of its jurisdiction following its controversial decision earlier this month to release ex-Information Minister Michel Samaha, convicted in a terror plot, on bail. 
Committee Chairman MP Robert Ghanem said the lawmakers began discussing a draft law relating to the Military Tribunal he had presented to Parliament in March 2012.* He said the committee’s move comes after it had studied draft laws relating to the judicial court, penalties and penal courts. 
“We are looking at the issue [justice] as a whole and not partially. Therefore, justice is indivisible, be it in the judicial court or in the extraordinary court. It should be the same,” Ghanem said after the meeting that was also attended by the head of the Higher Justice Council Judge Jean Fahd and representatives from the Defense Ministry and the Beirut Bar Association. 
Following the public and political uproar over Samaha’s release, Ghanem admitted that there is a flaw in the Military Tribunal’s work that needs to be addressed. 
“We have put this draft proposal [on the Military Tribunal] on the committee’s agenda for study. If there is any flaw, and certainly there is a flaw, it should be rectified either by amending provisions or procedures in order for justice to be the same and to ensure each person’s essential right to defense as stipulated by human rights,” he said.
* Sic. Nearly four years to get a draft bill discussed in committee? [Footnote added.] 

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